Articles in newspapers and magazine, including AARP, TV programs, many featuring health experts, and even doctors now all agree that loneliness can cut our live short. But advice how to overcome it varies. One idea, however, keeps popping up again and again:
“You must make new friends!” Not impossible but easier said than done. Yes, I am out there meeting new people but they don’t always turn into friends. And if they do we have little history together and making history takes time (and how much time do I have?)
So when the other day I was cleaning out a desk drawer I saw an old address book. I opened it slowly and started reading the names – oh, there was Janine’s name – I remember her as a fun person always ready for a joke. And there is Peter’s name – did he ever get married to the girl he was dating? After thinking and wondering for a while I told myself to stop wondering and to pick up the phone and dial the number I still had – surprise – it worked-and many other worked too. And if you wonder how to start a conversation after 5-10-15 years, my opening is, “This is a voice from the past, this is Brigitte.'” Silence – but not for long, “Oh, really what a surprise – how have you been? How nice to hear from you….” and so on and so on.
One of my here is a voice from the past callswas to a couple who had attended my son’s wedding 20 years ago . It took us close to an hour to catch up a little, a promise to meet soon and not to lose touch again was confirmed by exchanging emails.
I have other examples, but I don’t want to bore you with my friends. I am sure you have an old address book too! Reading through it is a nice way to walk down memory lane and to bring back the past – now being older the past is something we need more than ever.
And it might only be a phone call away – make that call and say ‘here is a voice from the past!’
Exercise can do more than just keep us in shape or make us lose a few pounds. It can enrich our life by making new friends.
If you dislike exercising as much as I do and it takes a great effort to do it, here is a thought – join an exercise class. No, I don’t mean a gym, but a class where you exercise with an instructor. There are many pluses, here are a few:
it will force you to go because you made a commitment
it will remove the excuses of not doing it today
it will make exercising fun
it will bring you in contact with others
it will help you to make friends
it will get you out of the house
it is something to look forward to
………..and when all is said and done you will feel and look better because you are in better shape and have some new friends you share something with.
It really helped me to overcome my dislike for being on a treadmill or in a gym doing my exercise alone. Anything shared in life is better than doing it alone – and I found out it includes exercise.
Friends, old friends, you have not seen or heard from in a long time are like misplaced treasures. I have often heard somebody say, “I had this friend, but we lost touch, I don’t know what happened.”
Where is that friend now? Do you wonder some times? Maybe this is the moment to get on your Facebook and try finding her (or him). She, like you, might be regretting to have lost touch. Loosing touch is nobody’s fault – it’s simply because life gets in the way robbing you of what once was part of you.
But it is never too late to start again, and you will be surprised how delighted your friend will be hearing from you. And having social media to help you will make it a fun project.
One of the reasons I call old friends treasures, especially when we get older, is because we share a history together. We can walk back memory lane and revisit the good and the bad of our past.
Another reason for appreciating old friends is that socializing is not what it used to be. No, not because we are older, but because today it is difficult to meet people – in person.
Therefore, stop wondering whatever happened to Wendy – instead push open the door of your memory and start looking for Wendy.
Today I want to share with you a short excerpt from my book Getting Over Growing Older.
When I was young, I never thought that one day I would not be young anymore. I was not listening when my grandmother said, “The only good thing about getting old is that it happens to everybody.”
Many years later, I am still not listening. I don’t feel old because I don’t think I’m old. If you ask me when I will be ready to be old, my answer is —never!
This is not the way to go.
When I asked my friend Diana why she had joined a certain organization, she said, “I feel good going there; it makes me feel younger because everybody there is older than I.”
This is not the way to go. In your group of friends, you need to have some young people. I am happy to say that I have friends who are half my age. Their friendship brings a new dimension to my world. When they tell me about their work or the man they just met, or we talk about the latest fashion trends, it is rejuvenating………………………..
How often have we been told, read or heard, that age is only a number. Some of us – now in the higher numbers – totally agree that the number is not what is important. But then there are others who can’t get over it, not their own number or others.
This is what happened to me lately which left me speechless. On a sunny Saturday morning Annie, John and I were sitting in one of London’s Parks drinking coffee and waiting for James and Andrea to join us for a visit of the Soane Museum near by. I had not seen them for nearly two years. It wasn’t long before they arrived. Everybody hugged and kissed, and when it came to me hugging Andrea, she stepped back, looked at me, and without a Hi or Hello first, said,
“You never told me how old you really are?” It was so taken back that it took a moment before I answered but then I said firmly, “And I never will!”!”
She didn’t pursue the matter further but it left me wondering how important age – as a number – is to her.
My advice is don’t say how old you are – why do you want somebody to know that you are 70 when you look only 60? No, women don’t look their age today – check it out – look around and see all the good-looking seniors! Here are two of them
This week I attended a meeting of the TheRadicalAgeMovement held at the Ethical Culture Society of NY.
There were close to 100 men and women, anywhere from 60 to 80+++. and one of the topics was “What do you fear the most about getting old?”
The discussion went on for the next three hours, and here are some of the major concerns,
that I outlive my money
that I will be incapacitated
that I will be alone
that nobody will take care of me
that I am not part of the world any longer
that I can’t travel anymore
that my friends have all died
that I can’t take care of myself
These fears, all of them, or some of them, I think cross every older person’s mind at one time or another. But we must not allow it to take over our life. One woman said,
“I can hardly sleep when I think of my finances?”
“May I ask you if you are having financial difficulties now? I asked.
“No, my accountant says I will not outlive my money. But I can’t stop worrying because one never knows what might happen.”
No, one doesn’t. But let’s stop and think! Isn’t this is true for any situation in life, and at any age? – you never know what might happen? And haven’t we all heard that worrying changes nothing? Realizing this we should not let an unknown future spoil our today!
I know from my experience that whatever happens in life, life goes on and solutions are found. So maybe now it’s time to smell the flowers (sorry for the cliché) instead of worrying about how they will look when they are wilted.
Have you started to make the switch from winter to summer in your wardrobe?
I have just started….. and I have to admit that I hate everything I see. Why? Maybe because the warm sunshine, the budding trees and flowers give me the feeling of wanting a new beginning, a new start. But looking at my clothes they don’t match my longing for a new look. Instead they make me feel like I am left over….left over from when? That depends on how many seasons I have switched an item back and forth.
There is a chapter in my book LET GO OF THE CLOTHES YOU DON’T WEARANYMORE (please believe me I do take my own advice) but this year seeing all the beautiful, bright-colored clothes, including bags and shoes which come in orange, turquoise, yellow and any shade of pink, I think I have to read that chapter again and let go of even more things than I did during my last clean out.
Some of you might say that your clothes are like old friends and maybe they feel that way, but look again – even friends can out-stay their welcome. A few splashes of color will lift your spirits – replace the beige ( we all have plenty of it in our wardrobe) with a bright blue or fuchsia or any other color of the rainbow out there.
The other day I saw this pair of shoes in the window of the Ferragamo store on Fifth Avenue – wonderful aren’t they? But even if you don’t want to be that extravagant it certainly drives home the message that bright and cheerful is the way to go this summer!